An Internet sanctuary for young Chinese people in Tokyo.

When our Japanese reporter Kamezawa Ikuna traveled to Shanghai she visited a Chinese Internet cafe, and it was unlike any cafe in Japan. Pets were allowed, the staff themselves were playing games, and what astonished her the most was that every Chinese customer was shouting at the computer screens in front of them.

Unaccustomed to such loud environments, she quickly left, though later she regretted getting scared so quickly and not staying a little longer.

So when she heard there was a similar cafe located in Shin Okubo, Tokyo, the reporter knew she had to give it a shot again. Despite Shin Okubo being labeled as Korea Town, the district has slowly become more of a multicultural hub in recent years.

▼ The region has a strong Chinese presence.

▼ Many Chinese goods and products not found anywhere else can be procured here.

▼ Customers and staff are mostly Chinese.

▼ Dumplings can be found everywhere.

▼ Heading east from Shin Okubo Station, she spotted many young Japanese women in queues to get their hands on some Korean goods.

▼ Almost forgetting her mission to find a Chinese Internet cafe,
Kamezawa strode past a store that sold stretchy cheese snacks…

▼ …and went up to the third floor of the same building.

▼ The establishment was called “Liang Cheng Wang Ka”,
which means “Good Times Internet Cafe” in Mandarin.

▼ Opening the door, the nostalgic shouting of Chinese gamers flooded her senses.

The male receptionist greeted her in fluent Mandarin, to which Kamezawa replied that she was actually Japanese. “Only Chinese people come here,” he explained hesitantly, this time in broken Japanese. Her eyes widened in surprise when he took out a piece of paper and drew a map to the nearest Japanese Internet cafe.

Their conversation thus followed:

“So I can’t go in if I’m Japanese?” Kamezawa said, shifting nervously.

“Japanese people do not come here,” he replied, eyebrows furrowing. Some curious players looked up from their screens to see what the commotion was about.

“M-my Chinese friend recommended this place to me,” she managed weakly, unaccustomed to such direct confrontation.

Suspicion growing on the receptionist’s face, he probed further. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m here to play games.” She sounded more confident this time.

“What game?” He seemed genuinely curious for some reason.

LLeague of Legends,” Kamezawa blurted out. She had never touched the game before, but its name somehow lingered in the far recesses of her mind. A hero-based battle game that was supposedly the most popular of its kind in the world.

“Oh, you play that game, too? That’s totally fine then!” A broad smile suddenly lit up the receptionist’s face as he began explaining how the Internet cafe worked, which made her sigh in relief.

Kamezawa had no idea how she managed to pass the interrogation, but it appeared the prerequisite for entering the establishment was love for games rather than nationality.

Membership for Good Times Internet Cafe cost 1,000 yen (US$9), with an affordable rate of 200 yen per hour of play time for members, while non-members had to pay twice more at 400 yen per hour. Those playing into the wee hours of the morning could opt for a 100 yen per hour plan, too.

▼ Our reporter felt she had stumbled into China, as everything was in Mandarin.

▼ An assortment of China-made refreshments and snacks were available at the reception.

▼ Notices were everywhere warning customers not to spit.

A quick scan revealed about 100 computers packed together in an open layout. As she was literally the only woman in the room, Kamezawa felt a little intimidated when shown to her allocated seat between two Chinese men engrossed in games.

▼ The computer’s language setting was also in Mandarin,
but luckily she could still browse Japanese websites.

That also meant that all games installed were in a foreign language, but the staff from before was there to guide her to the League of Legends login screen. What a good lad.

However, she started sweating bullets when he looked at her expectantly, “Here’s where you type in your login and password.”

Will she get kicked out for not having an account? Kamezawa did not play games, and she knew not the ways of the gaming world. Fumbling with her bag in a futile effort to buy some thinking time, her thoughts were interrupted by the man seating on the right, who looked over and asked in Japanese: “Do you want to create an account?”

“Is this your first time playing this game?” said the one on the left. They all seemed rather friendly.

▼ It made her wonder if she would lend a helping hand
to strangers had she been in their place.

The two Chinese customers and staff helped her create a username and password for League of Legends, which naturally led to casual conversation among the four of them. Before she knew it, more than an hour had passed. The receptionist simply laughed when Kamezawa confessed that she did not play games at all, and that she just wanted to experience what a Chinese Internet cafe was like. If only she had been honest at the start!

According to her new friends, the majority of customers were foreign students from China.

“We came here to Japan to study the language, but end up in places full of Chinese people like this,” one of the men admitted sheepishly. To Kamezawa, Good Times Internet Cafe seemed like a home away from home for these people. As long as they kept themselves healthy and not overdo it like playing six days in a row, it was a good way to keep homesickness at bay.

Kamezawa felt a little guilty for intruding upon their sacred ground just to satisfy her curiosity, but she did not regret it one bit. After all, she made some friends and gained a better understanding of Chinese people living in Japan. Vowing to return some time in the future, our reporter set off for the office with a smile on her face and some Chinese snacks in her hand.

Images: ©SoraNews24